Driving any type of motorized vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be dangerous and may result in very serious consequences. Boat drivers are responsible for driving safely and upholding the same sorts of driver intoxication laws enforced on land. Therefore, drinking while boating can be very comparable to a DUI.
BUI Laws in Florida
Plenty of Florida residents take to the water to relax, and many own boats of their own. If you are driving a boat, it is crucial that you understand the rules of the water, so to speak. It is illegal to drive a boat while impaired, which is strictly defined by blood alcohol content (BAC). If a boat driver’s BAC is .08 or greater, he or she is considered impaired and will, therefore, be arrested for boating under the influence.
Does a BUI Differ From a DUI?
When it comes to driving a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer must have a reason to pull the driver over. However, boat drivers can be pulled over by Florida officers for any reason. Florida authorities are authorized to pull boats to conduct a “safety inspection,” in order to determine whether or not all necessary safety equipment is on board.
Unfortunately, this can make it easier for officers on the water to make BUI arrests. By pulling a boat over for a safety inspection, the officer can then survey the condition of you, the driver, at close range and determine whether or not you may be intoxicated.
Breath Test Refusal
However, BUI laws can make it easier to deny a breathalyzer test. For DUI arrests, it is illegal for the driver to refuse a breath test, and refusal can result in driver’s license suspension, or even a misdemeanor charge. However, if a boat driver refuses a breath test, he or she will only receive a civil penalty of $500.
Penalties for BUI
Boating under the influence is taken very seriously in Florida and can result in harsh penalties. If convicted, boat drivers could face second-degree misdemeanors along with fines of up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. However, the penalties may be much more serious if there is a minor in the boat, there was a crash, the driver’s BAC was excessively high, or the driver has a prior BUI or DUI conviction.
The penalties for an excessively high BAC or a boating accident involving property damage or minor injuries could increase the penalties to one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. Or, if an intoxicated boat driver caused a crash that involved serious injury to another person, it could result in a third-degree felony charge and up to 5 years in prison, as well as $5,000 in fines. If an intoxicated boater causes the death of another person, he or she could face up to 30 years in prison for a first-degree felony as well as $10,000 in fines.
If you were arrested for boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is important that you act fast to defend your rights and preserve your freedom. Our attorneys can review your situation and determine the best legal methods to defend your case.
Contact Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. to get started on your BUI criminal defense case today.